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by Eric Kohn
January 24, 2012 10:40 AM
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SUNDANCE REVIEW: Julie Delpy's "2 Days in New York" is Fun But Awfully Familar

"2 Days in New York." Sundance
Julie Delpy's genial 2007 directorial effort "2 Days in Paris" worked well enough; it delivered a small, uncomplicated romantic comedy and never left that safety zone. Her next film, "2 Days in New York," repeats the same formula so specifically that it's practically the same movie imported to a new setting. Shifting her love interest from Adam Goldberg to Chris Rock and moving the setting to Manhattan, "2 Days in New York" unfolds like a carefree metropolitan remix of the first installment. Since Delpy brings the same cheery vibes and her cast plays along, the familiarity is mostly welcome.

Delpy's father, Albert Delpy, returns to play a fictionalized version of himself (both of her parents were featured in the original). This time, he shows up at the spacious apartment where his daughter Marion (Delpy) and her boyfriend Mingus (Rock) live with two children from earlier relationships. And he's not alone: Marion's horny sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and her smarmy, vaguely racist and perpetually stoned boyfriend Manu (Alex Nahon, who wrote the screenplay with Delpy) tag along, instantly burdening the low-stress couple with the responsibility of keeping their wily visitors content.

Delpy explores this scenario with a light touch that borders on sitcom formula, but also toys with her characters' sophistication in an obvious imitation of Woody Allen discourse. Their enlightened state comes across with a series of superficial details: The couple met at the Village Voice, where they both contribute; Mingus hosts a liberal talk show and Marion spends her days formulating high-concept photography projects and other far-reaching creative endeavors. While she frets over yoga class and considers an art project where she sells her soul, Mingus kills time by addressing a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama in his home office. And so on.

Their settled existence amusingly ricochets off Marion's blithe family, particularly her giddy father and irascible sibling, whose behavior regularly leads to whiny showdowns. "Do you want to visit New York or fight all day?" Marion asks them. As it turns out, the two options aren't mutually exclusive.

"2 Days in New York" intermittently drags without becoming an outright bore. Mingus' cardboard Obama speeches grow tiring after the first time out, as do various sketch-like issues that arise over the course the family visit. The only serious misstep arrives late in the third act with a strange tangent involving Marion's attempt to reclaim her soul from Vincent Gallo (don't ask), a random twist that distracts from the movie's central appeal.

Other than that, "2 Days in New York" suffers from a disconnect between occasionally sophomoric humor and a more refined intellectualism. While Deply includes high-minded dialogue about psychoanalyst Francoise Dolto and Arthur Rimbaud, the screenplay regularly wastes screen time with inferior jokes about diaper changing and an electric toothbrush possibly used as a dildo. The last thing a movie this low key needs is a reason to dumb itself down.

Even when it stumbles, however, "2 Days in New York" retains an airy vibe, reflecting its dogged intention of charming its viewers. Delpy can't shake the disposable nature of her storytelling, mainly because of the ongoing sense that we've been through this before. But seeing as "2 Days in Paris" never felt especially irksome, this affable sequel deserves the same insouciant shrug.

Criticwire grade: B

HOW WILL IT PLAY? Despite Rock's star power, "2 Days in New York" is too small and forgettable to gain much traction, but could perform well in limited release with a boost from solid word of mouth. A midsize distributor (such as Samuel Goldwyn Films, which released "2 Days in Paris," or IFC Films) seems like a safe bet.

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3 Comments

  • Richard | January 27, 2012 4:11 AMReply

    I saw the premier of this film on Thursday evening at the Chicago Music Box. To be fair one needs to must ask the question why this film was ever produced. Two day in Paris is certainly a Gem of a Film. Two days in New York is still a Diamond in the Rough. Ms Delpy certainly found her voice in Two days in Paris but sadly it has been lost in this sequel. Chris Rock is brilliant in his role but he seems to be leased in by the script. Ms Delpy is sincere at her attempt at Comedy but her attempt to use Woody Allen like dialogue falls flat most of the film. The audience laughs at her the actions of her French Family a bit like the Bevery Hill Billies sitcom but there is a real disconnect between her Father, Sister and her Sister's Boyfriend. They reflect want we use to call the worse of the "Ugly American". The scene in the restaurant where she has a verbal and then a physical fight with her sister does little to move the story and reminds one of a Three Stooges Film than a Modern Comedy. There is very little connection between Ms Delpy and her current boyfriend Christ Rock. One begins to wonder if her Father, Sister were ever happy as a Family. The personal parts of the story the Dealth of her Mom, the selling of her Soul and her views on religion are never well developed. If she would like to take a clue from Woody Allen then she needs to review his finest works i.e. Take The Money and Run, Annie Hall and Manhattan. All of his films protray a sense of a genuine character. Ms Delpy character may be genuine but it lacks direction and propose. One feels very little empathy for her character. Her actions review little about who she really is and how she really feels about things. The Selling of her soul to the highest bidder is interesting could have more impact on the story if it had been better weaved into the film. The ending of the film which reveals that all of her crazy behavior is due to the fact that she is expecting falls flat. Perhaps instead of watching Woody Allen Films she might have been better off to have watched the Classic "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" Directed by Pedro Almordovar.

  • trish | January 26, 2012 11:39 PMReply

    A boring disconnected hodgepodge of a movie...everything she thought of she threw in it seems and it adds up to...not much. And not to use Chris Rock better, with all the talent he has, is almost a crime. The other movies were really good, especially the ones with Adam Goldberg, and this is a pale retread. I just saw it tonight in Chicago. I love movies, but this one is pretty awful.

  • Lisa Nesselson | January 24, 2012 6:01 PMReply

    Not to be a stickler, but Delpy's directing debut was "Looking for Jimmy" and between the delightful "2 Days in Paris" and the film reviewed here, she directed the rather ambitious and interesting English-language period drama "The Countess" and her first entirely French-language film, bittersweet ensemble comedy "Le Skylab."